Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Kepler Scope Sends Stunning Images of Distant Planet

Five months after it was launched on a mission to find earth-like planets, the Kepler space telescope has sent back to Earth high-precision images of a planet some 1,000 light years away, NASA said Thursday.

But the real excitement at NASA was over how well Kepler was working, and the promise it holds for the future.

With Kepler only in the calibration phase, the telescope, which was launched in March on a mission to find earth-like planets in the galaxy, sent back to Earth highly precise images of a planet with the unromantic name of HAT-P-7-B.

The images of the so-called "hot Jupiter" planet located about 1,000 light years (around 5.9 quadrillion miles, 9.5 quadrillion kilometers) from Earth were "the first time anyone has seen light from this planet," said William Borucki, the principal science investigator for the Kepler mission and lead author of a report that will be published Friday in Science.

My guess is that life in the universe is fairly common with intelligent life being less common due to various evolutionary situations (dinosaurs) or the periodic bombardment of asteroids that tend to "reset the clock" in terms of biological complexity.

[Posted at the SpookyWeather blog, August 11th, 2009.]

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